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USF Changes MIS Degree, Emphasizes Business Analytics and Information Systems

New program offers more coursework in analytics, business intelligence, and project management.

TAMPA, Fla (March 30, 2016) -- Responding to changing business and industry demands, the University of South Florida is enhancing its MIS major – keeping the important information systems content but including more coursework that focuses on analytics and business intelligence skills related to "big data."

Starting in the fall, USF's Bachelor of Science in MIS will be known as the Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics and Information Systems. The undergraduate minor will also change names and focus more on analytics.

Analytics is a booming business, thanks to worldwide emphasis on leveraging and harnessing data in industries as varied as sports, healthcare, energy, business, and government. Given this – and USF's strong faculty expertise in business intelligence – USF is changing its undergraduate management information systems program to focus on more than creating the systems that collect data.

Analytics are no longer just for the IT staffers, said Moez Limayem, dean of the USF Muma College of Business.

"Today, understanding analytics is a core concept every student needs, regardless of industry or role," Limayem said. "The answer to almost every problem facing businesses can likely be found by careful analysis of the data available to managers. That's why USF is emphasizing analytics in every program," he added, noting that IT teams, in particular, need to understand how systems provide data – and how to transform data into insight that can help manage a company.

A typical degree in management information systems prepares students for a broad range of information systems careers in businesses. Because they will have a solid foundation in data analysis and model-driven management decision making in addition to these skills, USF graduates are likely to be in high demand – and the salaries being offered in this field are impressive.

Data scientist was recently named the best job in America by Glassdoor and, according to the 2015 Corporate Recruiters Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, data analytics and finance functions tied for second place in the list of jobs employers seek to fill in 2015. Fifty-one percent of employers plan to hire recent graduates with this skill set, compared with 44 percent last year, according to the report.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates that bachelor's degree candidates in business analytics & information technology received a median salary of $76,000 in 2014.

USF has updated its core curricula to include or expand the business analytics content, and students can now choose between business intelligence or business data communications, depending on whether they are more interested in analytics or the systems used to generate the data.

Balaji Padmanabhan, chair of USF's Information Systems Decision Sciences Department, said this is more than a simple name change; it is a program change that stems from a review of course content, faculty expertise, and insight gleaned from the employers who hire USF graduates.

While students will still learn how to design and implement systems, Padmanabhan said graduates from the business analytics and information systems major will understand how to harness the value of the available information.

"Despite layers of information-gathering technology, organizations frequently find it difficult to deliver the right data to the right people. That's where USF graduates will come in," Padmanabhan said.

"There is so much data available, but when information systems are dysfunctional, performance suffers. We will teach them how to provide smarter, more flexible information delivery systems, designing next-generation information systems that can help managers extract value and make sound decisions," he said.

USF is the first Florida university to emphasize analytics in the undergraduate information systems major. Rutgers University and the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business offer similar undergraduate degree programs.

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